Do you want to clear your browser of all cookies stored locally on your computer? Cookies, sometimes called web cookies or tracking cookies, are small pieces of text sent by a server to a web browser and then sent by the client every time it accesses that server.
Cookies are used for several different purposes, including authentication, session tracking, and storing specific information about users, such as their preferences on sites or products in their carts.
While cookies can be very useful, they also raise privacy concerns as they track user behavior on the Internet. Another problem with cookies is that they do not always accurately identify the user and can be exploited by hackers.
Cookies are fairly common on many major websites and do not contain spyware or viruses. They are simply pieces of data that help differentiate users. First of all, it’s worth understanding the difference between your own and third-party cookies. The main thing to understand is that third party cookies are cookies that are used to track you across multiple websites.
You may have noticed that if you once searched for plane tickets and then started browsing other sites, all the ads displayed on other sites could be targeted towards flights, hotels, or something related to travel. These are third party cookies in action.
To increase your privacy, but keep your convenience, you can disable third-party cookies and allow basic cookies. You can also use an add-on or extension like Disconnect which has become very popular lately. You can easily manage cookies in Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari by following the instructions below.
Manage cookies in IE
For older versions of IE, click Tools and then Internet Options. In newer versions of IE, click the little gear icon in the upper right corner.
In the Browsing History section of the General tab, click the Delete button.
Now click on the Delete Cookies button. In newer versions of IE, you must select the Cookies and Website Data check box and then click the Delete button. This will delete all cookies stored on your computer for Internet Explorer.
To specify exactly what types of cookies can be stored locally on your computer, click the “Privacy” tab and then click the “Advanced” button.
Check the box next to “Override automatic cookie handling” and choose whether to accept, block or request your own and third-party cookies.
Manage cookies in Firefox
To manage cookies in Firefox, click the settings icon, then select Options.
Now click on “Privacy” and at the bottom you will see the link “Clear recent history”. You can click on it and another window will open where you can check the box for cookies and then delete them for a specific period of time or for the entire time.
You can also click on the “Delete individual cookies” link to open a window with all the currently stored cookies and the data they contain.
To configure your own and third-party cookies in Firefox, you need to click on the drop-down menu that says “Remember history” and change it to “Use custom settings for history.”
Accepting cookies from sites is the same as essential cookies. By default, third-party cookies are also always accepted, which is pretty much the same as the setting for each browser. You can change the setting from Always to Attend or Never. I really like the visited option because it prevents websites that you haven’t visited from storing cookies locally. This will block many advertising cookies.
Manage cookies in Google Chrome
For Chrome, you need to click the menu button and then click Settings.
Now scroll down the settings page and click on “Show advanced settings”.
In the “Privacy” section, you will see two buttons: “Content settings” and “Clear browsing data”. To quickly delete all cookies, just click the latter and check the box next to Cookies and other site and plugin data.
By default, it is set to only delete data for the last hour, so you’ll want to change that accordingly. If you click on the “Content Settings” button, you can block all cookies, only third-party cookies, or delete them every time you exit your browser.
You can see each cookie that is stored individually by clicking the All cookies and site data button. Chrome is nice because it even has a search box to quickly find a cookie from a specific site.
Manage cookies in Safari
For Mac users, you need to click Safari in the top navigation bar and then click Preferences.
Click on “Privacy” and you can set your cookie preferences right at the top. By default, Safari on Yosemite has a “Allow from Websites I Visit” setting by default, which basically means it blocks third-party cookies. Always allow the use of first-party and third-party cookies.
You can click the Delete All Website Data button to delete all cookies, or Details to view each individual cookie stored in Safari.
There are other ways to prevent sites from tracking you, which I will briefly mention below with links to the detailed articles I have already written. The first way is to use the private browsing mode that every browser now has. In private mode, the browser does not store cookies locally on your computer or deletes them immediately after closing the private browsing window.
The websites you visit can still track you even in private mode, but the data won’t be stored locally on your computer and nothing will remain in your search history. Another method is to use the Do Not Track mode, which can be enabled in all browsers on the same privacy tab mentioned above. This basically sends a request to the server so it doesn’t track you while you browse.
Unfortunately, there is no legal requirement for sites to comply with this request, so it really is the site that decides whether they want to track you or not. The best option is the privacy plugin mentioned above.